This I Believe

Renaee - Chatsworth, Georgia
Entered on June 22, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe there is nothing wrong with leaving dishes in the sink in order to pursue a more interesting activity. That sounds like it would be an easy decision to make; for me, it is one of the most difficult things I do each day.

Along with many of my peers, I suffer from what I call Superwoman Syndrome. The symptoms include working full-time, attending school, believing your home should always be spotless, and all of the meals consumed by your family should be both well-balanced and prepared by your loving hands. Eight hours of sleep is a mandatory requirement because someone important said that is how many hours an adult should sleep. Superwomen are all about doing everything we are told we should.

My affliction began during childhood. At my parents’ home, I had chores which had to be completed before I could play. ‘Work first, play later’ could have been our family motto. I believed that anything worth doing was worth doing right. My academic and work performances reflect that belief.

Please do not misunderstand me. I firmly believe children should have chores. I still approach everything with the mindset that it should be done correctly and immediately. Thus far, that philosophy has served me well. I have a job I enjoy, a nice home, and a beautiful family. However, I recently realized that I spend more time at work and on household chores than I do with my family. My family is the most important thing in my life. Obviously, it was time to reassess my priorities.

My wake-up call came in the form of my three-year-old daughter. I was cleaning up the kitchen one evening after dinner. She came into the kitchen and asked if I would go outside with her to swing. I told her that I had to finish the dishes. She asked if we could go when I was done; I told her it would be dark by then. I realized that I had developed a habit of using my responsibilities as excuses not to do anything else, and then pitied myself because I had no time.

I dropped the sponge on the counter, took my daughter’s hand, and walked outside. We enjoyed thirty minutes on the swing set. I was amazed at how much better I felt afterward; I was more relaxed and slept wonderfully that night. My daughter knew she was more important than a household chore.

I have not completely changed my habits. I continue to go to work every day, attend all of my classes, and refuse to do anything halfway. But I also refuse to not enjoy life and time with my family because of something as mundane as dishes in the sink. I encourage everyone to leave the dishes in the sink—the world will not end. If it should, I assure you the last thought in your head will not be “I knew I should have washed those cereal bowls this morning!”